Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hope in the Darkness -- Hope Chronicles 16

Have you ever noticed that a candle in the light doesn't mean much? That is to say, its impact isn't felt. A candle in the dark -- now that is another story. Its light draw's our attention as it pushes back the darkness that surrounds it. Hope is always useful. But it is when the darkness is pressing in, that it is most useful.

But then, maybe those who have not learned to hope in the day cannot fathom it in the darkness? Perhaps, it is all the hopes that we see come to fruition in the light of day that make hope in the night possible.

I have always been fascinated by World War II history. I have wondered if I would have had the courage to hide my neighbors . . .. Would I risk my life for another?

Corrie ten Boom is the author of The Hiding Place. It is the story of her family during WWII and how they helped rescue Jews in Holland. In the course of hiding refugees, the family was found out. Corrie, Betsie (her sister), and their father were sent to concentration camps. Their father died within 10 days. Betsie also later died in the camp.

One conversation that Corrie writes about in the The Hiding Place stands out to me in particular. Somehow, Betsie and Corrie were able to smuggle a Bible into the camp when they were arrested. One night they are lying on the bunks being bitten by fleas. Corrie complains to Betsie about the fleas. Betsie tells Corrie that they must pray and thank God for the fleas. Her reasoning -- the guards do not come into their barracks because of the fleas. As a result, they are able to have their Bible and even does a Bible study with the other women.

Hope, seeing God in even the "small things," I think is what made Betsie able to thank God even for the fleas. She recognized that no detail was ever out of His hand. It was her life long history with God that enabled her to connect the dots to Him even in the midst of the horror of a camp.

So, how do we learn to hope in the day so that when we are in darkness we can hope again?

Recount God's faithfulness to you. Sometimes, when things are hard it's difficult to see all the ways He has been faithful. I did a little of that with recounting blessings in Friday’s post.

Tonight I was looking back even further. I grew up in a nominally Christian home. We generally went to church on Christmas and Easter and a few other times scattered among the year. As I look back, it is amazing to me that we just happened to go to church the Sunday they were giving the third grader's Bibles. Honestly, I had never read any of the Bible or even looked at one. I don't remember there being one in the house. But God knew that if He got a Bible into my hands I would read it. (Of course, it didn't hurt that I had a little competition going with my twin as to who could read the whole thing first. So periodically, we would ask, "So where are you?" This would set about a flurry of reading.)

God also put me in a family that was very BIG on appearances. It was important to my parents that we belong to the church. In our denomination, we had to be confirmed. This happened in the 7th grad and necessitated being in church for a year for confirmation classes. My parents decided that they would take us and drop us off. I don't remember being particularly thrilled the first week, but we soon discovered we liked it and were voluntarily going to youth group and choir as well! Within a year, I had made a personal decision for Christ.

When I reflect on all of this -- the Bible Sunday and having to go to confirmation class -- I see God's hand at work. He was preparing my heart for the day I would meet Him years before it happened. So, when the darkness pushes in, I can recount the way He was faithful in bringing me to himself and all the ways He's been faithful ever since.

How have you seen God's faithfulness?

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